A Ronnie Burns hat-trick and a Ricky Higgins double ensured that Ballynure Old Boys advanced to the second round of the Crawford Cup at the weekend.
All Ballymena intermediate and junior sides are eligible to take part in this competition, and Gary Burns’ lads proved to be too strong for Junior League Division 1 opponents, Carnmoney, who were beaten 5-2 at Mossley.
Burns headed the ball in to the net from a Sammy Duff cross in the first minute, and then doubled his tally in the 20th minute from another Duff pass.
Carnmoney were well in the game, but were unable to penetrate a compact home defence, and they paid the penalty when Burns expertly curled a free over the wall in to the bottom corner of the net to complete his treble.
Paul Hughes in the home goal scarcely had a touch in the first half, but he was in action several times during the third quarter, during which ‘Money opened their account with a good shot.
Ballynure regained control, and after Higgins had been fouled, Mark Leckey drilled the resulting spot-kick into the net.
Johnny Robinson and Duff combined to create an opening for Higgins who scored his side’s fifth goal, but Carnmoney had the final say with a late strike.
“We were rated favourites against a Junior League side, but Rab Butler caused us problems all afternoon. However, in the end, we were comfortable winners,” said Gary Burns.
Ballynure OB: Hughes: Penny, Leckey, G Curlett, M Curlett; Gray, Forsythe, Officer, S Duff; Burns, R Higgins. Subs: McGreevy, Kirkpatrick, McIlroy, Robinson.
Saturday’s league fixture is against Ballysillan at East Belfast’s ground.